7 Stunning Facts About the USS George H.W. Bush

Pure violence incarnate, the USS George HW Bush is one of the most powerful ships afloat.
Christopher McFadden

The USS George H.W. Bush is one of the most powerful warships mankind has ever conceived. She is the last in the line of the highly capable and venerable Nimitz-class carriers and should be in service for at least 50 years.

Here we take a quick look at this impressive weapon of war and check out some of her vital statistics.


What is the USS George H.W. Bush?

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) is the tenth, and final, ship in the line of Nimitz Class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers for the United States Navy. She was commissioned in 2001.

Her keel was laid in 2003 and she was officially delivered in January 2009. All in she consumed around 47,000 tonnes of structural steel and about 1 million pounds (453,593 kg) of aluminum. She displaces around 100,000 tons.

The Nimitz-class of carriers is among the large and most powerful warships ever conceived by mankind. She has a designed crew complement of around 3,250 seamen and 160 officers as well as 2,500 aircrew and 320 officers.

The USS George H.W. Bush also carries a flag crew of 70 including 25 officers. The ship is propelled by two General Electric nuclear-pressurized water reactors (type PWR A4W/A1G).

These reactors generate steam that drives four turbines capable of generating 209 MW. The turbines, in turn, drives four shafts at the rear of the ship.

She also has four 8 MW standby diesel engines in case of emergencies. This gives her the capability of reaching a top speed of somewhere in the order of 30 knots.

The aircraft carrier can carry 56-fixed wing aircraft including the highly capable Hornet F/A-18A, C, E and F, the Grumman EA-6B Prowler and the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, as well as up to 15 helicopters like the Sikorsky SH-60F, HH-60H Seahawk and SH-60B Seahawks.

How big is the USS George H.W. Bush?

Her flight deck is 332.9 meters long by 76.8 meters wide with her angled flight deck being 76.8 meters long. This flight deck allows landing aircraft the option of accelerating safely away during failed landing attempts.

USS George HW Bush at sea
Source: Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

This is essential during such rare events in order to prevent collision with stationary aircraft that might be present on the deck. 

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In hostile theatres and at times of war, the carrier can launch aircraft at a rate of around one every 20-seconds. This is achieved using the ship's complement of four C13-2 steam catapults and three mk7 mod-3-type arrester wires. 

"The carrier has four deck edge elevators. The deck edge elevators allow large aircraft to project over the side of the ship. Two starboard lifts are forward of the island and one is to the aft of the island, and the port lift is also aft of the island towards the stern. The hangar deck, (7.8m high) has a capacity for up to about 30 aircraft, depending on the composition of the air wing. The ship carries 8,500t of aviation fuel." - Naval Technology. 

But the ship is not completely defenseless without the devastating potential of the aircraft in her hanger deck. Apart from her extensive array of sensors, communications systems, and other electronics, she is armed with an advanced combat direction system (ACDS).

This system is used to control her complement of two to three Raytheon GMLS mk29 octuple missile launchers. Each launcher is armed with either Sea Sparrow or Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.

She also has two mk49 guided-missile launch systems for the RIM-116 rolling airframe missile (RAM). The aircraft carrier is also fitted with four 20mm Phalanx CIWS (close-in weapon system).

Safe to say, the USS George H.W. Bush is a formidable ship of war in attack and in defense.

How many aircraft carriers does the US Navy have?

All told, the U.S. Navy currently has a complement of ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and one Gerald R. Ford-class carrier. These are the largest and most powerful warships of their class in the world.

The latter is slightly larger than the Nimitz-class with the first ship of the class, the USS Gerald R. Ford, having just been christened. Another nine have been planned and will replace the aging Nimitz-class vessels. 

"USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) was the first to undergo its initial refueling during a 33-month Refueling Complex Overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., in 1998. The next generation of the carrier, the Gerald R. Ford Class (the lead ship hull number will be CVN 78), began construction in November 2009 and is slated to be delivered in 2015 to replace USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). CVN 79 is programmed to begin construction in 2012 and to be placed in commission in 2018." - US Navy

But it may not be until at least 2024 that the USS Gerald. R. Ford is finally deployed. 

The U.S. Navy also has a series of nine amphibious assault ships that carry troops, helicopters and STOVL fighters. These are split between two classes: The America class and the Wasp Class.  

These carriers form the backbone of naval taskforces for the US navy. They are able to be deployed rapidly to support U.S. interests and commitments at a moment's notice. 

"They can respond to global crises in ways ranging from peacetime presence to full-scale war. Together with their onboard air wings, the carriers have vital roles across the full spectrum of conflict." - US Navy

7 takeaway facts about the USS George H.W. Bush

Here then are 7 takeaway facts about this incredible piece of military hardware (courtesy of the US Navy). 

1. The USS George H.W. Bush is the tenth and last planned Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. She was commissioned in 2001 and she was delivered to the US Navy in 2009. 

2. She is powered by two PWR nuclear reactors capable of propelling her along at 30 knots. These reactors can operate for over 20 years without ever needing refueling. In case of emergencies, she is also equipped with back up diesel engines. 

USS George HW Bush at dusk
Source: Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

3. She has four enormous bronze propellers 21 feet (6.4 meters) across and weighing more than 30 tons each. The ship is steered by equally enormous rudders, 29 feet (8.84 meters) by 22 feet (6.7 meters) and weighing 50 tonnes apiece. 

4. The USS George H.W. Bush is expected to be in service for at least 50 years is home to over 6,000 naval personnel at any one time. She carries enough food and supplies to allow her to keep fully operational for at least 90-days at sea.

5. The ship's distillation plants are able to provide 400,000 gallons (over 1,500,000 liters) of freshwater (from seawater) every single day. That would be enough to supply 2,000 domestic homes on land. 

6. She was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and cost in the order of $4.5 billion to complete. She consumed 47,000 tonnes of structural steel and about 1 million pounds (453,593 kg) of aluminum.

7. The US George HW Bush is 1,092 feet (333 meters) long making her almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall. From the waterline, she is about 20-stories high with a 4.5-acre (18,211 m2) flight deck.

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